New City boss Bryan Gunn tonight enjoyed his finest hour yet as Canary manager after Norwich drew 3-3 with league leaders Wolves in an extraordinary match at an icy Molineux.
Joined on the touchline for the first time by new City assistant boss Ian Butterworth, the pair witnessed a game of endless drama and high emotion as goals from Lee Croft, Carl Cort and Gray Doherty wiped out a Sylvain Ebanks-Blake hat-trick.
The result extended Gunn's unbeaten record at the Canary helm to four games.
The performance will guarantee City a heroes' return when their Championship relegation fight resumes at home to Bristol City this weekend.
“I've just told the boys in the dressing room how proud I am of them,” said the Canary chief, fast flourishing into his new role. Certainly the players appear to be responding to The Gunner's light managerial touch; the fear factor appears to have gone from their play after – for the second time this season – matching the Championship's leaders chance for chance, goal for goal.
“They've set themselves standards over those first three games and tonight they've set the standard a bit higher,” said Gunn, with the Canaries giving the Molineux faithful the shock of their lives when Cort's sweet, 25-yard side-footer just after the interval put the visitors into a 2-1 lead.
The luckless Jamie Cureton could have taken City two goals distant; instead, Ebanks-Blake went to work with two more goals to complete his hat-trick and take him to 20 for the season.
But even then the Canaries came back for more with Doherty bundling home a leveller as the City boss handed three of his new boys the chance to shine after the interval.
“To come to the league leaders and put on a performance like that… And they're sat in the dressing room now disappointed that they have not won the game.
“And that's something we could have done,” Gunn, told BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards. “We had a number of chances that we didn't take.”
What's very telling about Gunn's managerial style is that at that point he stopped. There were no names; no fingers pointed. And, as a result, no loyalties were lost; no respect tested.
It might just start to explain why there is an altogether healthier air about the place.
“I'm not digging anyone out because all the lads are honest in the dressing room – they've held their hands up and said 'Sorry!' to their team-mates and their team-mates have got round and rallied.
“And that's all that I can ask for – the spirit is excellent.”
He could – at a push – ask his new No2 Butterworth to get to work on City's defensive frailties ASAP; once again, Norwich contributed to their own downfall on occasion.
But no more than Wolves after a horrid back header enabled Croft to steal in for that all-important first leveller. The goal was key; it nipped Wolves' thoughts of an easy night out in the bud – and, indeed, rewarded the visitors for their own bright opening. Thereafter it was simply a case of trading punch after punch after punch.
It was also Cort's finest hour in a Norwich shirt as the one-time ?7 million striker began to roll back the years and produced a real peach of a strike for City's second. If the ghosts of injuries past have, indeed, been finally banished from the 31-year-old's mind and body, he could yet prove to be one of Glenn Roeder's greatest legacies.
What is clear, however, is that the spirit in the camp remains very, very willing under the new managerial team.
“It's character,” said Gunn, after Norwich twice clawed their way back into the contest from a goal adrift. “And that's what we asked the boys – to show their commitment; to show their passion.
“And they've got it within them. We know that they've got it within them – and, hopefully, we can get that out of them more in the games to come.”
And they have something else in their locker now after Gunn's whirlwind weekend on the transfer merry-go-round – extra bodies.
“We've got new players that have come into the squad and we can only get better from here,” he added, after granting David Carney, Chris Killen and Alan Gow their City debuts tonight.
And, of course, his UEFA Cup skipper Butterworth – fresh from quitting his role as Hartlepool's ressie boss earlier in the day. With Ian Crook already installed as first team coach and John Deehan as chief scout, the gang was finally all here.
“It's great to have Butts here,” said Gunn. “We're great friends from our playing days. He's a top class coach and I'll be leaning on him a lot in terms of my managerial experience as well.
“So we've got a good back-room staff and we're all in it together,” added Gunn, growing in confidence by both the day and the game.
“I did enjoy it – I must admit. I don't want too many 3-3s but if we keep gaining points then I'll be happy.”